Flowers in the Desert

God is only one of the aberrations of the I, or more precisely of what I am. Socrates, Jesus, Descartes, Hegel, all the prophets and philosophers, have done nothing but invent new methods of deranging what I am, the I. The history of the universe is nothing but a continual offense to the unique principle that “I am” — a living, concrete principle, a triumphant principle that the world has always wanted to subject to the yoke of successive abstractions — God, the State, society, humanity.

For Stirner, philanthropy is a hoax. Atheistic philosophies, which culminate in the cult of the State and of Man, are only “theological insurrections.” “Our atheists,” says Stirner, “are really pious folk.” There is only one religion that exists throughout all history, the belief in eternity. This belief is a deception. The only truth is the Unique, the enemy of eternity and of everything, in fact, which does not further its desire for domination.

Even revolution, revolution in particular, is repugnant to this rebel. To be a revolutionary, one must continue to believe in something, even where there is nothing in which to believe. To dedicate oneself to humanity is no more worth while than serving God. Moreover, fraternity is only “Communism in its Sunday best.” During the week, the members of the fraternity become slaves. Therefore there is only one form of freedom for Stirner, “my power,” and only one truth, “the magnificent egotism of the stars.”

In this desert everything begins to flower again. “The terrifying significance of an unpremeditated cry of joy cannot be understood while the long night of faith and reason endures.” This night is drawing to a close, and a dawn will break which is not the dawn of revolution but of insurrection. Insurrection is, in itself, an asceticism which rejects all forms of consolation. The insurgent will not be in agreement with other men except in so far as, and as long as, their egotism coincides with his. His real life is led in solitude where he will assuage, without restraint, his appetite for existing, which is his only reason for existence.

Albert Camus — The Rebel

The Best of All Possible Worlds

The claim that beliefs in themselves do not have a grain of truth, and at the same time that an important or even guiding social role of religion is to meet the needs of cognition, is logically impeccable. We never lack arguments to justify the doctrine in which, for whatever reason, we want to believe.

Of course, faith would not be needed, if the course of world affairs applied directly and reliably to the norms of justice, as this would mean that we live in Paradise. Adam and Eve did not believe in the existence of God in the sense in which their descendants believed, as they lived in a real theocracy under direct and visible rule of God.

There is no such thing as rational worship. If we talk about God’s qualities and works as objects that can be conceptually separated, it is only because in this way our finite minds try to capture Infinity, which we can not understand.

Neither party was convinced, nor will probably ever find the arguments of the opposing party convincing, which is also a common fate of all the fundamental questions in philosophy for the past twenty-five centuries.

Leszek Kolakowski – Religion: If there is no God

Imitation

Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein is found much distraction and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to appear learned, and to be called wise. Many things there are to know which profiteth little or nothing to the soul. And foolish out of measure is he who attendeth upon other things rather than those which serve to his soul’s health. Many words satisfy not the soul, but a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure conscience giveth great confidence towards God.

If it seemeth to thee that thou knowest many things, and understandest them well, know also that there are many more things which thou knowest not. Be not high−minded, but rather confess thine ignorance. Why desirest thou to lift thyself above another, when there are found many more learned and more skilled than thou? If thou wilt know and learn anything with profit, love to be thyself unknown and to be counted for nothing.

That is the highest and most profitable lesson, when a man truly knoweth and judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing of one’s self, and to think always kindly and highly of others, this is great and perfect wisdom. Even shouldest thou see thy neighbor sin openly or grievously, yet thou oughtest not to reckon thyself better than he, for thou knowest not how long thou shalt keep thine integrity. All of us are weak and frail; hold thou no man more frail than thyself.

Thomas à Kempis – The Imitation of Christ

Hide-and-Seek

Here’s a parable, an analogy, which comes from India, from the Upanishads, and is thousands of years old. It presents a parabolic answer to the root question of all religion and philosophy (Who am I and what is this?), and does so in a way which everyone can relate to.

In the beginning of the world, there was only Brahma. Being all there was, and therefore totally known to himself, Brahma soon realized that this totality of awareness would eventually become extremely boring… after all, when you know everything there is to know, then there’s no surprise, nothing to keep you interested. It’s like reading the same book for the seventy-eight millionth time. Anyway, since he was omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (all-everywhere), Brahma decided to create a diversion for himself, a way of introducing the elements of surprise, intrigue and drama into his experience. He thought, “What would it be like to forget who I really am?”

So, he invented the game of cosmic hide-and-seek. According to the rules of this game, Brahma would pretend to break pieces of himself off from the whole so that to all appearances they would seem separate. That’s the “hide” part. Then, as the apparently separate consciousness at the center of each of those apparently separate pieces, and through their apparently separate and unique perspectives, he would “seek” to rediscover who he really was, which was, of course, everything.

Imagine seeing yourself from an infinite number of different perspectives, each one initially ignorant of its relationship to all the rest. Imagine going to sleep and dreaming a different lifetime each night, each lasting for more or less years, each complete with the full range and variety of emotional life and death details. Imagine having the same dream but playing a different role in it each night, seeing it through different eyes each time. Well, guess who those apparently separate pieces are? Since there is only one I Am in the universe, one consciousness, it’s all a game of hide-and-seek, and each one of us is in the same state: I’m It and You’re It!

Roger Stephens – A Dangerous Book

Die Welt ist meine Vorstellung

The world is my idea. This is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself.

Arthur Schopenhauer – The World As Will And Idea

La vida es sueño

In one sense it must be admitted that we can never prove the existence of things other than ourselves and our experiences. No logical absurdity results from the hypothesis that the world consists of myself and my thoughts and feelings and sensations, and that everything else is mere fancy. There is no logical impossibility in the supposition that the whole of life is a dream, in which we ourselves create all the objects that come before us.

Bertrand Russell – Problems of Philosophy. The Existence of Matter